Nothing is sacred

What’s wrong with voting?

Although voting seems like an intuitive concept, there are a few major flaws that seem to be getting worse over time.

Voting is never truly representative

We assume voting is fair because it vaguely reflects some total population that we are trying to represent. It’s impossible to exactly pin down what “representative” means. (Similar demographics, interests, incomes, ideologies? All of the above?)

[…]

Voting is a competitive game

Voting is a zero-sum game, meaning that whomever wins does so at the expense of someone else. As a result, voting promotes competition, not cooperation. Players might coordinate as a means of gaining an edge (“if you vote for X this time, I’ll give you Y next time”), but ultimately, “winning” the vote means beating someone else.

[…]

So. We have our current system, and we’ve identified some emerging problems that we need to solve for. What does that look like?

Designing for cooperation, not competition

If you’re an avid board gamer, you’ve probably come across a cooperative game or two, like Pandemic or Forbidden Island. In a cooperative game, you work with, rather than compete against, your fellow players to achieve a shared outcome…

Nadia Eghbal – The problem with voting

Seeking hard problems

It's that time of year again (where my schedule empties out), so I find myself in search of a really hard problem to work on. Some problems that have piqued my interest:

  • Affordable housing. Did you know that affordable housing is defined as paying 30% of income or less on housing? And did you know that Washington County, where Tualatin is located, has a gap of ~14,500 houses and growing? I didn't either until about five months ago. Even if you can still afford your housing, this is a problem the entire socio-economic spectrum should be working on.
  • Government technology. The USDS is really cool and having an amazing impact. You should listen to Jennifer Pahlka's SALT talk, "Fixing Government: Bottom Up and Outside In". I wish there was a similar initiative in Oregon. Is there one?
  • Landing Gutenberg in WordPress 5.0. Gutenberg is a revolutionary editing interface. So revolutionary, in fact, that it's one of the worst-rated plugins in the WordPress.org directory. Getting from where we are now to happily shipped in core is going to be a challenging, multi-faceted initiative.

Let me know if you have any input on these problems, or whether there are others I should be considering!

Disruptions: Fliers Must Turn Off Devices, but It’s Not Clear Why

Disruptions: Fliers Must Turn Off Devices, but It’s Not Clear Why. The policy requiring travelers to turn off electronic devices during takeoff and landing has zero supporting data. On the Frontier flight I took last night to DC, their $6/flight DirectTV remained on the entire time. Hypocritical.

Anonymous & Lulz security statement

Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell you what WE find unacceptable:

  • Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.
  • Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for federal contracts we all know they can’t fulfill.
  • Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough so the status quo will never change.

These governments and corporations are our enemy. And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies.

[…]

Let me ask you, good sir, when was the Internet not the Wild Wild West? Do
you really believe you were in control of it at any point? You were not.

That does not mean that everyone behaves like an outlaw. You see, most
people do not behave like bandits if they have no reason to. We become bandits on the Internet because you have forced our hand. The Anonymous bitchslap rings through your ears like hacktivism movements of the 90s. We’re back and we’re not going anywhere. Expect us.

Anonymous & Lulz security statement. Wonderful, the internet’s first war of attrition.

Ev Williams: The Challenges of a Web of Infinite Info

Ev Williams: The Challenges of a Web of Infinite Info. According a co-founder of Twitter, “what’s ‘dead’ is the original model of the web, which was completely distributed and decentralized.” Instead, large corporations will own huge tracts of land of which netizens sharecrop small plots. The corporation will control how the community operates and how individuals form their identity.

This future is slavery.

Serfing the web

The Economist, Nov. 11, 2010:

Both Google and Facebook are run like absolute monarchies in which hundreds of millions of users (digital serfs, some might say) have created identities. Rather like mercantilist countries in the offline realm, both companies operate policies to protect this asset.

Brad Burnham at Union Square Ventures, Jun. 10, 2010:

Facebook is a government. Facebook’s users are citizens, and Facebook’s applications developers are the private companies that drive much of the economy. Apple. Twitter, Myspace, Craigslist, Foursquare, Tumblr and every other large network of engaged users (including some services of Google) plays a similar role. We have always tacitly acknowledged this. We talk about these networks as communities, communities have governments.

David Carr, Dec. 19, 2006:

What’s being concentrated, in other words, is not content but the economic value of content. MySpace, Facebook, and many other businesses have realized that they can give away the tools of production but maintain ownership over the resulting products. One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few. It’s a sharecropping system, but the sharecroppers are generally happy because their interest lies in self-expression or socializing, not in making money, and, besides, the economic value of each of their individual contributions is trivial. It’s only by aggregating those contributions on a massive scale – on a web scale – that the business becomes lucrative. To put it a different way, the sharecroppers operate happily in an attention economy while their overseers operate happily in a cash economy. In this view, the attention economy does not operate separately from the cash economy; it’s simply a means of creating cheap inputs for the cash economy.

We need a people’s revolution.